"Ground Breaking" Research in Nanotechnology Doesn't Appear to be Related to Nanotechnology At All

About 12 years ago, the world of physics was abuzz with the news that researchers led by Lene Hau had slowed down the speed of light from 186,282 miles a second to about the speed of grandma on the highway (38 miles an hour). 

Now we have news that researchers in Australia are using silicon photonic crystals to slow down light to generate individual pairs of photons.

The device the researchers from the Centre of Excellence for Ultrahigh Bandwidth Devices for Optical Systems (CUDOS) nodes at the University of Sydney and Macquarie University developed is 100 microns long, making it 100 times smaller than the one-centimeter devices used by other groups.

Great! Chapeau…and all the rest. But could someone explain to me how this story constitutes research into nanotechnology as the headline states. I became even more bewildered when the article claimed that the device is on the nanoscale. I don’t get it 100 microns is small for sure, but 100 microns is equal to 100,000 nanometers, just sayin’.

I do not know where the research was originally published so I don’t have any place to check this information. Maybe there is some kind of explanation for it being considered a “nanotechnology-related” story. I’d be glad if anyone could comment with an explanation. 

But then again perhaps the market analysis and investment folks are not the only ones engaged in pointlessly hyping nanotechnology. It’s being given credit for a development that apparently is more within the field of photonics than nanotechnology, and is being plastered all over Twitter like the biggest breakthrough in nanotechnology since…well, ever.

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Nanoclast

IEEE Spectrum’s nanotechnology blog, featuring news and analysis about the development, applications, and future of science and technology at the nanoscale.

 
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Dexter Johnson
Madrid, Spain
 
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Associate Editor, IEEE Spectrum
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